Friday, June 02, 2006

More On Michael Magee & Flarf as Poetry

I thought I'd post some of these comments here. I've responded to a piece by Michael Magee by "writing" a flarf poem, and, now, a series of 86 poems in answer to issues raised in these comments: on his blog, Kasey's and at another blogs (oops! links to follow). I'm also responding to many good comments and observations from CS Perez, Chris Chen, Gary and others. It's worth spending the time to read all the threads.

Thanks for reading.

P.S. No offense taken, CS!

CS - check out what I did yesterday: not one more, but 86 "more unreadable poems" - but the nice thing about flarf is that I can, yes, cop a feel of privilege, and claim an "invisible hand" as I didn't "write" these "poems" but generated them, unedited, from Leevi's google-a-poem engine (or, whatever it is; heck, after all, isn't "high" technology for the "Invisible White Man" and not for "N- Savage Wenches" like me) (I am also African American -- but as I have come to believe, after my father's death last spring, that a distant relative was "passing" in the relative calm of the relatively savage Montecito mountains during a time of relative state savagery, there's no way to document it).

But, document this. Check out these poems, just a few posted on one post on my blog here tracing exactly your arguments and my comments to those and others -- a trace of the American "N" word: a Nazi Sestina. But I had to go, first, through the lowly Pantoum (from a "mongrel race") to get there. Check out just of a sampling of my flarf pantoums on legalized abortion and euthansia in America and the funding of eugenics experiments in Nazi Germany.

Some of us bear one trace. Others, an/other.

Cs: I've agreed with most of your comments and positions, uh, up until the mean ones directed at me. I didn't just start writing what y'all kids are now calling Flarf. For me it began with Pedro Pietri on the page, and, earlier, with the happenings and conceptual art installations in my father's gallery in 1960 when I was too small to see up on the cheese table. Duh DAH Dada from dada -- how boring. It usually is, and the talk about the event-object is the aesthetic. But, no. I represent. I have a manuscript of poems, intentional cut-ups of every poem in my first (quite readable) book in the order they were published that were sent, blind, to some of the major competitions and presses, who ordinarily would love to publish my more accessible poetry if for nothing else but the name in their search engines. Ya know? And nobody wants them. "Teach me how to read these," my publisher pleads. So I do know what it's like for the Post Post Po'Mo'. No one but one self-described "cutting-edge" university press; or, as I used to say when I was first studying HisCon ("that's a program, son"): Achieving the "Cutting-Edge" is easy when you've always been the side getting cut. Or something like that. If y'all want presentational poetry go to the poems I wrote all April, 30 "readable" poems written in 7 minutes or less (like these in this new series); it will be an experiment and experience to see how many of them get published next season, especially in a blind judging. If they represent. But, that's what it is to be like The Chinaman, to always be the Wooden Indian in the Starbucks -- and those should all be in scare-quotes and Starbucks should have a registered trademark symbol if I were that technologically advanced-- if I knew how to make a "universal" one that would show up on everybody's keyboard the same. ;-)

M & K, thanks for your comments. Do check out this new, book-length series. It's scary. Sorry, Michael, for using your name, but it was a way to interpellate -- and boy did it percolate. K, if you think the last one was raspy wait til you see some of the others.

Yes, M. Thank you. To not "simplify but complicate" - that was my intent; that, and intimidation of the level of discourse. That's why, on my blog, I sub-title the first one "On Intent, Voice and, Who's On First" in answer to these threads. I have a theory about good poetry never being essentially racist and offensive -- not the good ones. The essay being the point thrust of power; Poetry being like William Tell's son waiting for the apple to fall. Or, is it the other way around? I guess this is what I was trying to do -- by chance and by the seat-o-my-pants. A dissertation in poetry: How Much Can You Disconnect? Is Disjunction Even A Choice Given Gaia and Genocide (which does not deconstruct)?

Problem is, I can dance to it. It's gotta a backbeat you can't lose it. Rather than boring, these poems interest me. I like to read them aloud. They are very performative. "Make it new" is not all that Pound pounded. He was also useful for pointing out the ways in which poetic language is charged: an "inescapable" "3" - melopoeia, phanopoeia, and logopoeia. And he ranked his list.

Thing is, I really like my Flarf poems -- they turn me on in all those ways. I call them ouiji board poetry. Gifts from the goddesses of Gaia I might as well pull a Yeats in all this, with traces of the Papist shredding off like a peasant's clothing in another century. I started writing them as soon as I found a convenient engine -- otherwise I've done them in my head, kinda like picking and fanning the deck of poetry for a card. "Teach me how to read this" is like saying "Teach me how to like Mexicans." It bears the trace of an insult which is nonetheless better fare than the trace of a threat. The point, I think (the feminine qualifier and feminine projection) - the trace.

Anyone care to trace my sources? After all, it's just some pansy pantoums not pontoons. Not me.

"I'm frightened by the Devil/ And I'm drawn to those one's that ain't afraid"

Posted by Lorna Dee Cervantes at June 1, 2006 02:42 PM

"Books are a mongrel medium." ~ The Invisible White Man


Blogger Lee Herrick said...

I've greatly appreciated what CS and Chris Chen have added to the conversation. I haven't read each post closely (so I'm not referring to any personal comments), but I value the moments where they clarify points (that relate to my own views) on issues of entitlement, language and appropriation, and racism. Magee himself wrote that his poem has the potential to be "terribly wrongheaded," and as I told him in an earlier post at Lime Tree, I feel that he succeeded in only that---writing such a poem. Because there is mild discussion about a poem does not increase its value, in my opinion. If that were the case, most anyone could get people "talking" by writing inflammatory things based on any number of "isms." Just my opinion.

2/6/06 12:41  
Blogger csperez said...

hi lorna, thank you for not being mad :)

i love the way the roots leading to your mind make thoughts into words and how it makes me dizzy reading these posts again...

The Invisible White Man is a funny construction.

Hi Lee!

3/6/06 00:59  

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